United Church of Christ (NY) condemns violence against Indian religious minorities

UCCNY Conference is second major U.S. denominational body to address India

BINGHAMPTON, N.Y. — At its June 1, 2024 meeting in Binghampton, NY, the New York Conference of the United Church of Christ unanimously passed a resolution condemning violence against religious minorities in India, which include Christian organizations and individuals as well as other religious minorities, including Muslims. 

The New York Conference of the United Church of Christ (UCCNY) resolution begins by addressing the plight of over 40,000 people, 250 churches, 1,700 homes, and 120 people who have been killed as a result of Hindu nationalist policies propagated by India’s ruling BJP in the state of Manipur. The New York Conference is the first in the UCC denomination to pass such a resolution, following soon after the United Methodist General Conference became the first denominational body in America to pass a similar one in April 2024.

“We want to publicly care for Christians and not only Christians, but other religious minorities who are suffering, and look at the root causes of that suffering in the Indian subcontinent. That should matter to every congregation in New York and around the nation,” said Rev. Dr. Marsha Williams, Conference Minister and Ecumenical Officer.

The Conference resolved to stand in solidarity with the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC), Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA), Religions for Peace USA, the Ecumenical Partners in Outreach, and the United Methodist General Conference.

“This is a call to draw the circle wide,” said Williams. “It is our business to care about what happens around the globe and not just close to home. We need to take God out of the box. God is doing far more than what we’re imagining.”

The resolution clarifies: “The UCCNY does not conflate mainstream Hinduism with Hindutva. The latter stands for Hindu Nationalism and is the situation which we address in this witness.” It resolved that India be designated as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC , “for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom, as defined by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).” It further condemns ongoing religious freedom violations and calls for advancing human rights for all religious communities in India.

The resolution additionally asks U.S. representatives and the Biden administration to apply targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies and officials responsible for severe violations of religious freedom by freezing those individuals’ assets. It also urges UCCNY church members to contact their respective U.S. Congressional representatives and ask them to bring violations of the rights of religious minorities to the attention of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Department of State, and the Church and society.

“It is time to apply international pressure to demand a change in policies that demonize and target vulnerable people in India because we are in relationship with them,” said Rev. Martha Koenig Stone on behalf of the UCC’s Commission On Eccumincal and Interfaith Relations. “Just as we cannot stand for continued violence against Palestinians and reject any form of violence against Jews and Muslims, we must speak alongside others who are speaking for those who are oppressed. That conviction to address unjust policies is at the heart of our Christian faith because we care for the whole planet.”

Thanking the United Church of Christ, FIACONA Executive Director Rev. Neal Christie said, “The UCC has taken a courageous step in raising awareness about the harm done by Hindu nationalist  ideologies and policies in the U.S. and in India. The UCC has said that religion should not be weaponized. We stand with them in holding members of the U.S Congress and the Biden Administration accountable for their role in allowing systemic harm to people simply because of the God they worship and the communities they belong to.”   

“The prosperity of a nation is determined by the well-being of all people, irrespective of religion, caste, creed, gender, and socio-economic status,” said Rev. Prabhu Sigamani of the Farmingville UCC and director for the NY Conference. 

“A nation can pride itself when its weakest community members are safe and secure, thereby experiencing liberty to the fullest extent without the fear of persecution,” said Sigamani. “The fundamentals of all religions teach us love and forgiveness. Now can be the time for healing. I am urging the leaders to take action to stop the violence. As our prayers are ascending for your safety and peace, we believe that the blessings of Jesus Christ will descend so that there is peace and harmony.”


Rev. Neal Christie
Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America
[email protected]

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Religion News Service or Religion News Foundation.

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